The Phantasea Tropical Botanical Garden is located on the island of St Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The garden is home to a wide variety of tropical plants and offers views of Tortola, Magens Bay and St. John. Over one thousand tropical plants found in the garden include palms of varying heights representing at least six different species.
Succulents include cactus, agave and euphobia. A variety of Aroids display large, leafy greens and include Philodendron, Dieffenbachia and Zamioculces. Aroids are known for their ‘inflorescence,’ which is sometimes refered to as a flower but is really a leafy, but colorful combination of the spathe and spadix. Among the more colorful offerings of the garden are the Bromeliads, and Heliconias, otherwise known as ‘lobster claws.’ Six different varieties of Bromeliads include Hohembergia, Neoregelia, Guzmania and Tillandsia. There are over 3,000 known species of Bromeliads. While some are found in West Africa, most are native to the tropical Americas. Perhaps the most popular of the garden’s residents are the orchids. Cattleyas are among the most popular and come in a variety of shapes and colors. Phalaenopsis, also known as Moth Orchids, are the easiest to grow in the home and the type most commonly found in retail florists. Dendrobiums span over 1,000 species of both soft and hard-caned varieties. Brassias are epiphytic varieties, meaning they hang from the trees, decorating the forest with color, and gather most of their moisture from the air. A list of what’s currently in bloom may be found on the Phantasea website.
Each of the plants is clearly labeled and displays reflect the garden’s mission to educate the public on tropical plants native to the Carribean and conservation efforts to protect them. Interpretive signage also points to the birds, butterflies and native lizards and other animals that come to enjoy the vegetation, including hummingbirds and the Bananaquit , the state bird of the U.S. Virgin Islands, which also feeds on nectar. Benches and gazebos located throughout the garden offer visitors a place to relax and enjoy the surrounding flora. A Balinese gazebo underneath a large ficus tree is a popular area to sit and rest.
A variety of orchids are available for sale in the garden’s gift shop, along with books on tropical plants and island cooking, garden accessories, snacks, juices and teas.
History: Phantasea Gardens opened to the public in early 2015 after 20 years of construction. The entire project is the result of owner Patsy Breunlin’s vision. Breunlin wished to create a true botanical garden for residents and visitors to St. Thomas to enjoy. Bruelin moved to the island in 1987 in search of even warmer weather than her native North Florida. A plant lover all her life, she immediately went to work looking for a suitable location to return the plants she brought with her to their native soil. In 1995, she settled on a property on the north of the island that was overgrown with invasive species and vines, underneath which were spectacular old growth trees and some terraced areas and stone walls. Originally, Breunlin’s intention was to build the garden for her own enjoyment. When she realized the property was in an area zoned for a botanical garden, she set to work on a business plan and the construction of visitor facilities. At the garden’s public opening in 2015, over 20 years of hard work had come to fruition. The privately owned garden is supported through admissions fees and memberships, which include early admission to plant sales and events, as well as discounts on classes, workshops and gift shop items. In 2015, Phantasea Gardens won St. Thomas’ Woman Owned Business of the Year Award, and consistently receives top ratings on several travel sites.
Ongoing Programs and Education: Guided group tours are available for school groups, summer camps and other organizations. Tours lead groups along the garden path and educate students on the flora of the moist tropical forests through an interactive program. Educational tours emphasize the relationship between the plants and animals on the island, as well as the relationship between what occurs on land, and its impact on the surrounding ocean.
What’s Nearby: Phantasea Gardens are located on the north side of St. Thomas, adjacent to Fairchild Park, a public park run by the government. The park is named for Arthur S. Fairchild, a longtime resident of the Virgin Islands and a well-known philanthropist.
St Thomas 00802, USV, Phone: 340-774-2916